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Rattled by Turkey Attack

  • July 11, 2016
  • Blog

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My partner Griffo and I woke to more than 100 messages and missed calls from worried friends and family a couple of weeks ago.

We’d been travelling through Turkey and our phones were on silent as we slept through all the calls and texts.

On June 28 at 10.30pm, three suicide bombers attacked innocent people at Istanbul Airport in Turkey, killing 45 people and injuring more than 230.

We had no idea of the news until we woke that morning and picked up our phones.

We’d been at Istanbul Airport only hours before.

Thankfully for us, we’d flown into Antalya that afternoon.

It’s hard to explain the eerie feeling we both had: It was shock and a sense of fear unlike any I’d experienced before.
Heidi Anderson and her partner Griffo at Duden Falls in Turkey. Picture: Heidi Anderson
We were thousands of kilometres from home and, for the first time in Turkey, I felt uncomfortable and unsafe.

After we finished talking with our relieved families, Griffo came over and gave me an enormous hug and kiss.
He held me close to his chest and told me how much he loved me.

My eyes filled up with tears and I blurted out that I wanted to go home.

After five days of living out of a suitcase, I wanted the comfort of my own bed and the security of my own house.

I needed to feel safe.

He just hugged me and said: “Let’s go get some breakfast and think about it, and not make any irrational decisions”.

He explained to me the last place he wanted to be was an airport.

Over breakfast, I pondered “what if?”

Over and over again that thought went through my brain.

I felt so lucky to be here. If they’d been serving booze I’m pretty sure I would have bought a glass or two of champagne.

A lot of people were concerned before we flew to Turkey because the Australian Government had issued a few warnings.

Eleven bombings had killed people in Istanbul and Ankara in just the past 12 months.

For most parts of Turkey, the warning is the same as if you were travelling to Bali: “Exercise a high degree of caution”.

For Istanbul, the warning was a degree higher and stated: “Reconsider the need to travel”.

So we did.

Originally we were to stay in Istanbul for three nights, but we cancelled that and flew straight from Istanbul to Cappadocia.

Unfortunately our flight was cancelled from Cappadocia to Antalya on June 28 and the only option we had was to fly back to Istanbul and then on to Antalya.

I felt uneasy about this stopover because I wanted to limit our time in Istanbul as much as we could, but we had no choice.

We’d passed through Istanbul Airport and we’d bought water from the exact place one of the bombs had gone off just hours before the explosions.

Just writing about it now brings tears to my eyes.

Too many innocent people are being killed by worthless pieces of scum who want to terrorise and scare us.

We can’t let them win.

We must still embrace this beautiful world and enjoy all it has to offer.

I have no regrets about visiting Turkey.

I have no regrets about still travelling.

The Turkish people are some of the kindest I’ve ever met.

In Cappadocia we met a woman named Seda whose sense of humour and kindness made our stay in the sleepy town of Ürgüp unforgettable.

Thanks to her we prepared, cooked and ate a traditional Turkish meal with a local family in their home.

Riding in a hot-air balloon over Cappadocia while the sun rose was one of the most picture-perfect moments.

As the balloon lifted into the skies I’ve never felt so much peace.

It was pure magic watching at least 100 other balloons do the same thing.

I know the Turkish people are devastated by what is happening.

In a leather store in Antalya two sales assistants were telling us that five million Russians used to visit their incredible city. This year that number has dropped to just 200,000.

Every day we noticed empty streets and tables at numerous restaurants.

I hope in time people we will begin to travel to this beautiful country once again.

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